Tag Archives: portrait painting

Demo — Painting the Portrait

In this piece I decided to do a more involved underdrawing in vine charcoal on toned canvas (which I spray-fixed). There are basically three reasons for this.1.) In a double portrait things get even more tricky needing to have the two faces and bodies in proper proportion to each other. I decided to take a little extra time with the drawing to make sure I wouldn’t encounter any unpleasant surprises later. 2.) I just really enjoy drawing and I found myself getting involved in the process. Normally I fight that feeling because of time restraints, but I gave in this time. 3.) I like to do things a little different from time to time. When it comes to art making I am a firm believer in having a good solid method (that works) to fall back on if and when things go awry. But, as you know, we artists have to mix it up now and then. Granted, I’m not drawing here hanging from a chandelier or anything like it, but it did lead me to get out of my comfort zone, which I will explain next.

What’s so uncomfortable about a locked in underdrawing you say? Well, it caused me to forgo my normal underpainting and put everything I had on the line to properly execute the overpainting without the safety of a basic color scheme laid in. Sure, I could have done an underpainting. In fact, I started to do so. But I found that the underdrawing was sound enough not to need it. Also, there was a sort of “grisaille” in place as well due to my blocking in the essential value pattern with the charcoal (not just the contour, which is my normal method). So I just went after it. I do want to note that I have painted like compositions with like color schemes before. I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary in terms of subject or color. If I would have been, I probably would have laid in an underpainting, or at least done a color study (or two).

In painting this way, it’s even more important to “keep those drawing chops working” (as I’ve said before). And it’s critical to constantly evaluate your relative values and colors. It’s too bad that the quality of video I’m currently using does not really show the color nuances that are present. In the real thing there are differing levels of chroma and neutrality as well as subtle differences in local color; all of which help to give life to the portrait and increase it’s illusion of “presence” or “reality”.

Thank you for reading this lengthy accompaniment to the video. And thanks for watching.

Until next time…